USound, a company providing advanced audio solutions, has been selected by NordicNeuroLab, a global producer of medical equipment for functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies, as a MEMS microspeaker supplier for the production of its new MRI-compatible headphones. The medical headphones will significantly reduce MRI noise and provide patient comfort as well as improving patient - operator communication during MRI examinations. The product is aimed at both clinical and research use and will be launched first half of 2024.
A determining factor for this collaboration was the development of Achelous UT-P2016 as part of USound’s Ganymede series. This MEMS microspeaker has no metallic components and can be safely used in MRI machines. Metals may interfere with the magnetic field used to create an MRI image and can cause a safety hazard. At the same time, MRI screenings produce a lot of noise which can frighten the patients, making the use of headphones necessary.
Up until now, MRI headphones were of the pneumatic type. The speaker would be placed outside of the machine, with long plastic tubes connecting the transducer to the ear of the patient. The new MEMS-powered over-ear headphones by NordicNeuroLabs offer better user experience, audio performance and noise cancelling capabilities, making the screening process a less stressful and more enjoyable experience.
MRI screenings are often dreaded by patients, especially by those suffering from claustrophobia, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder. Recent reports have shown that up to 13% of patients who receive such screenings experience having a panic attack inside the MRI machine. According to a recent scientific article published at the National Library of Medicine in the United States, severe anxiety during MRI scanning can lead to patients moving, resulting in “reduced imaging and diagnostic test quality”. Moreover, premature terminations or avoidance of life-saving MRI screenings are also observed. The new MEMS-powered MRI headphones, along with other changes in the design of MRI machines, can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety in patients, eliminating the risks that are associated with it during screening.